History of Palos, Il.
From: History of Cook County, Illinois
By: A. T. Andreas
Published by: A. T. Andreas, Publisher Chicago, 1884


The town of Palos is situated in the southwestern portion of the county, and is hounded on the north by Lyons, on the east by Worth, on the south by Orland, on the west by Lemont Township and Downers Grove, in DuPage County. In size it is an exact congressional township, and is traversed by the Illinois & Michigan Canal and by the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad. For some reason, perhaps because of its limited railroad facilities, and also owing to its distance from the city, the attention of builders of suburban towns has never been directed toward Palos, and it has therefore to he classed with the agricultural portion of the county.

The first white people to settle within the present limits of the town of Palos was the Paddock family, who located on Section 33, in 1834. In the same year came Schuyler Brown, who settled on Section 31; the next year came John McCord, then a young man, just starting out in life for himself. He took a claim in Section and three years later was united in marriage with Miss Harriet Paddock, Mr. and Mrs. McCord lived on their farm in Palos until in 1866 they removed to Will County, and later, in 1871, to Blue Island, Here they continued to reside until called from the cares. of this, to the rewards of another and better world. Mr. McCord's death occurred in 1873, at the advanced age of seventy years, his good wife surviving him until in 1882 she died, aged sixty eight. Two sons, Ira and Andrew McCord, the latter horn in 1842, the former in 1848, still live in Palos Township, and are counted among its wealthiest and most influential citizens.

Samuel Mahaffay was also a settler of 1834. In that year he located in the town nf Palos on Section and on the farm where he now lives. In 1835 he married Miss Jane Paddock, this being, so far as is known, the earliest wedding in the township. Being asked to give the names of the old settlers who were living in the settlement when he came in 1834, Mr. Mahaffey said: As well as I can now remember, they were as follows: Robert Lucas, now dead, was living east of my place, about half a mile; Elijah Starr's place was about the same distance in a southeast direction, and in what would be now just over the line in Orland; the Wentworths, Uriah and Benjamin, the furmer not now living, were located on a farm two miles to the northeast, while Richard McClaughry was two miles away to the west. A half mile farther west and you came to the house of James Paddock, who now lives in Mokena. DeWitt Paddock's farm was only one mile west of my own; he now lives in Mokena. Four miles west, and near what would now be the town of Lemont, were the farms of John Russel, Seeley Spaulding and Adam Boyce."

Adam Boyce and Joseph Harrington came in 1834, the latter locating on Section 19, the former on Section 30; Robert Lucas came also about the same time and settled on Section 35, as did George Pettijohn, who located on Section 28. Of these last mentioned, Boyce, Harrington and Lucas are deceased.

M. A, Powell, now numbered among the oldest living settlers of the township, came in March, 1837, and located on Section 28, half of which he still owns, and which forms one of the finest farms in the county. Mr. Powell says that at the time he arrived there were but nine families in the township, most of whom have already been mentioned, These nine were, however, the families of James Paddock, Samuel Mahaffay, Lewis Bush, John McCord, George Pettijohn, Joseph Harrington, Adam Boyce, Schuyler Brown and Robert Lucas.

Mr. Powell was the first Postmaster in the township, the office, known as Orange, and kept at his house, being established thirty-five years ago ; later, the name was changed to Palos, which title it now bears. It is still kept by Mr. Powell, who has thus seen thirty five years of continuous service in handling the mail.

Lewis Bush came to Cook County in 1836, and in the same year located on a piece of land in Palos Township in Section 31. The first six years of his residence here, however, he worked on the Illinois & Michigan Canal after which lie settled down to farming on the place where he now lives.

George J. Lintz came to Cook County in 1837, and worked on the canal until in 1840, when he located in Palos, and three years later purchased the farm of two hundred and ninety acres in Section 21, and where he now lives.

Matthew McClaughry came to Cook County in 1834, and located on a farm in Palos ten years later. Here he lived until in 1872 he removed to Blue Island, where he now resides.

Patrick O'Kane, still a large landowner in Palos, came to Chicago in 1839, and seven years later removed to Palos, and located on his present farm in Section 32. With the above have been mentioned those to whom belongs the particular distinction of being the first settlers of Palos. To them, however, a broader title is due, that of pioneers of Cook County; they came here when the country was in a wild and undeveloped condition, and by their labors they have contributed no little towards placing the county in its present creditable position among the agricultural producing districts of the State, Among those who came later and before the fifties, were William and James Heatherwick, who settled on Section 32; Patrick Carrahan, now living on Section 22; James Maloney, on Section 8; J. B. Shields, on Section ; Thomas Horan, who also located on Section 8 ; and Peter Warner, who came in 1845 and located on Section 28. The Conley family came to Cook County in 1846, and first located in Blue Island, but a year later, Morris Conley, the father, located in halos, where he lived until his death, which occurred in 1872. Two sons, John and James, now live on farms in Sections 23 and 26 of this township.

Michael McMahan located in Palos in 1858 on Section 23; John McMahan came a year earlier and located on Section 14, where he now lives; John Mallow came in 1856 and located on the farm where he still lives John Murray came in 1857 and located in the Powell neighborhood, where he now resides.

This township was organized in 1850 under the name of Trenton, the first election being held on the 2d of April of that year. The name, however, was changed to that of Palos, almost immediately afterward, as in the town records under date of July 2, "Township of Palos" is used, though no mention is made as to the exact date of the change. The first town meeting was held April 2, 1850, at the house of John Chatfield, which then stood on Section 22, near the feeder. The officers chosen on that occasion were M. A. Powell, Supervisor; John McCord, Clerk; Lewis Bush, Assessor; J. P. Campbell, Collector; John McCord and John Collins, Justices; George Pettijohn, Overseer of the Poor; Matthew McClaughry and Mark Burroughs, Commissioners of Highways. It was also decided at that meeting that a fence, well built and five feet high, should be deemed a lawful fence, and appropriate penalties were enacted, to be inflicted on the owners of stock which should trespass on grounds thus lawfully enclosed. A further motion prevailed that all moneys derived from this source should he employed in building bridges and constructing roads, of which at that time the township stood in great need,

On the 13th of April the Commissioners of Highways met and divided the townships into road districts, as follows: Districts Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, were identical with the school districts of the same numbers; District No. contained Sections 1. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16, with Jeremiah McCarty as Overseer. District No, 6 contained Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, 17 and 18, with John King as Overseer.

The first road laid out after the town organization was ordered on the application of Richard Cleveland, of Lemont, and was surveyed and constructed as the joint undertaking of the two townships. Its course was as follows : "Beginning at the southeast corner of Lemont, and the southwest corner of Palos, and running thence north on or near the line between the aforesaid townships, to the center of the road leading from Desplaines to Thornton," The order establishing the road is signed by Augustus Dolan and Richard Cleveland, Commissioners for Lemont, and by Asa Bushnell, M. McClaughry, Commissioners for Palos.

Following is the roster of those filling the principal town offices, given from 1851 to the present time, It should be noted, however, that the Clerk's record contains no mention of any elections held from 1853 to 1858; also no record was made of the election of 1866.

Supervisors - Alexander Roberts, 1851-53; Patrick Kain, 1853. Alexander Roberts, 1858-59; L. Bush, 1859-61; James B. Shield, 1861-67; H. H. Gibbons, 1867-68; John Conley, 1868-71; N. Powell, 1871-73; John Conley, 1873-75; Jeremiah Dea, 1875-80; Stephen Hallagan, 1880-84.

Clerks. - John McCord, 1851-52; Patrick Kam, 1852-53; James Williams, 1853. John McCord, 1858-59; Waterman Reed! 1859-62; James Donahue, 1862-63 ; P. B. Shields, 1863-65; William Shultz, 1865-68; LeRoy McClaughry, 1868-70; Ira McCord, 1870-71; John D. Shea, 1871-73; John Mallon, 1873-76; Timothy O'Kane, 1876-77; G. A. McClaughry, 1877-78; John Mallon, 1878-80; G. A. McClaughry, 1880-84.

Collectors. - Patrick Kain 1851-53; John Collins, 1853. M. A. Powell, 1858-61; Dennis Curran, 1861-62 ; Morris Horan, 1862-64; M. A. Powell, 1864-65 James Maloney, 1865-68; Nelson Bush, 1868-69; James Maloney, 1869-70; LeRoy McClaughry, 1871-73; Jacob Kollar, 1873-77; James O'Connell, 1877-80; John Powell, 1880-84.

Assessors. - George Pettijohn, 1851-52; John Drummond, 1852-53; James Williams, 1853; Lewis Bush, 1858-59 James Maloney, 1859-64; Lewis Bush, 1864-69; John McMahan, 1865-68; Waterman Reed, 1868-69; John McMahan, 1869-71; Patrick Couthlin, 1871-73; John D. Shea, 1873-74; John L. Sullivan, 1874-75; John McMahan, 1875-81; Timothy O'Kane 1881-83 ; John McMahan, 1883-84.

Justices. - John McCord and James D. Tuhory, 1851-58; John McCord and James Maloney, 1858-62; Waterman Reed, 1862-68; John Sullivan and Patrick O'Kane, 1868-73; James Maloney and John Sullivan, 1873-7; Christian Mtkelson and John Wachter, 1877-81; Otto Runge and John Wachter, 1881-85.

The first school taught in the township was at the house of M. A. Powell, in 1838. and Mrs. Chatfield, a widow, was the first teacher. Two years later Thomas Harding, George Pettijohn and Mr. Powell put up a log school house in the center of the south half of Section 28. The first term of school taught in this house was by Miss Ellen Savage, one of a number of teachers who ahout that time came out to this western country from the East. There are at present seven public schools in the township, haviug a total enrollment of two hundred and sixty six pupils; of this number the percentage of attendance is 132.4.


This is a post hamlet situated in the extreme northwest corner of the township, and also extending into the town of Lyons; is a place of considerable age, having been in existence since 1840. The name Willow Springs was given to it on account of the fact that on the side hill, and just south of the canal here, was situated a magnificent flowing spring whose sparkling waters bubbled up from beneath the roots of a large willow. When navigation on the canal was opened this place became a station on the line, and, the boats stopping here to fill their water barrels from the spring, the station was by common consent given the name which it now bears, No less enduring has been the spring itself; but the old willow has long since disappeared, and in its stead a prosaic little brick structure has been built about the waters, which still flow on unmindful of the changes thus made by the hand of man.

The first permanent settler within the present limits of the village was George W. Beebe, who came here in 1842 and built a log cabin on Section 32, in Lyons, his house standing only a few rods front the town line Here he opened a tavern, and boarding house for the laborers on the canal, on which Mr. Beebe was himself a contractor. This was the first house built in the village. Mr. Beebe has been dead for several years, but his widow is still living on the old place, with a son, Wallace Beebe, who is the present station agent at the Springs. The first merchant here was a man named Jarvis, who early in the fifties built a store house on the banks of the canal, He did not remain long, as it appears, and for a number of years the place was without a store of any kind, Then John Sherwood opened a general store in the same house built by Jarvis, but which had in the meantime been removed from its former site on the banks of the canal, some eighty rods south, and almost in the center of the present town. Mr. Sherwood was also the first station agent here for the railroad company. The first post office, and which was also known as Willow Springs, was situated nearly two miles southwest of the present site of the town, and was kept by Alexander Martin. When Mr. Sherwood opened his store in the village the office was changed, and he became th second Postmaster, holding the position until, four years ago, he was succeeded by J. H. Banks, the present incumbent. Mr. Banks, who has also a grocery store and saloon in connection with the post office, is the son of Edmnnd Banks, an old settler, who came to Chicago in 1838 and settled near where is now Sag Station.

Joseph M. Abbit, merchant, has been in business here for the past four years. He is a son-in-law of George W. Beebe, the first settler of the place, and has resided in the vicinity of the Springs for nearly thirty years. A mong the early settlers in Palos who located in the vicinity of Willow Springs were John Spear, Peter Green, Owen Finnegan, John Williams and Jacob Kollar; of these Green, Finnegan and Williams are now deceased,

Archological. - There is in the town of Palos the ruins now clearly discernible of what were once evidently French or Indian fortications. These ruins, which are situated on the farm of Theodore Lucas, some three miles southwest of Willow Springs, are yet so well preserved as to enable one to clearly trace their former extent and size, From their location on a rising piece of ground, and the area which they once evidently inclosed, the conclusion is arrived at that they were of considerable importance and well designed in their construction for affording refuge and protection to a large number of persons. As to who built them, no one knows: hut here is certainly a rich field for the antiquarian who delights to dig among such ancient ruins, in his efforts to bring to light the long hidden mysteries of an almost forgotten past. Thomas Kelly. a farmer, living in Section 18, says that in some researches he has made among those ruins not long since, he found a number of relics, among which was a curiously wrought pnuder horn, evidently of an antique pattern, and having on its surface inscriptions in a language which he was unable to read, The attention of Prof. A. D. Hager, of the Chicago Historical Society, has already been directed to these discoveries by Mr. Kelly, and in all probability investigations will shortly be made which wiil throw much light on the question as to who constructed these fortifications and for what ouroose they were built.

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